Typoman: Revised Review

By Kelly Packard,
It's a simple battle that always seems to be ongoing in the video game universe and perhaps our own lives, that of good versus bad. In Typoman: Revised, you're a small H-E-R-O just trying to defeat E-V-I-L. Why do I spell it out like this? Because everything and everyone in Typoman is composed of letters.

Along the way, HERO will meet some nefarious four-lettered foes like HATE and FEAR. Looking closely at each character, you can see the letters that merged together to form them. Your weapons are the concepts all baddies despise like LOVE, LIFE, CARE, KIND, and SAFE. Every now and then, you'll find yourself able to turn someone against themselves with a LIE. But Typoman isn't just about spelling out words and using them against your enemies. It's a puzzle platformer at heart, and progression may be as simple as adding a letter to the end of another word or composing a new creation entirely.


The concept is creative, fluid and fun. While it's nice to make it to the end of a heart-pounding platforming segment, it's equally or even more enjoyable to have done so due to your own quick wit. In Typoman, it's not so simple as just punching in "OPEN" to get a locked door to part; you've got to work with the letters you're given. But the letters don't always amount to anything, and here enters more advanced mechanics like LIEs. When the word "LIE" is created, it turns into a creature. This little fellow is neither friend or foe. It will turn any word it touches to an antonym, or the word's opposite. So perhaps you'll have to create an antonym, and further combine it with the letters you already had to advance, adding another layer to the gameplay.

Along with wordplay, there is regular platforming. There isn't a lot to say here other than it feels great. The game makes use of what I would call "free running" where even if you're progressing up a staircase that looks like you would need to jump to continue forward, you don't have to jump over its edges and can keep running as you were. While your first playthrough will be stop-and-go thanks to contemplating puzzles or maybe falling straight off a cliff that seemed to come out of nowhere, subsequent playthroughs — which you will be completing, should you choose to earn all the achievements — are so enjoyable and almost beautiful thanks to the speed at which you can fly through the game. I played through the game four times and savored each one of them.

Hmm... yeah, I'm just going to run through all this gas and see what happensHmm... yeah, I'm just going to run through all this gas and see what happens

As for the wordplay itself, it's thorough but not perfect. While the sheer amounts of solutions for some puzzles can be pleasantly surprising — for example, the puzzle in the screenshot below can be solved in more than 15 different ways — other times what seemed like an obvious answer did not generate any action from the game. There were also times when a word that seemingly had a clear antonym did not yield any action from combining it with a LIE. Combining "MAMA" with "LIE" gives the antonym of "PAPA," but this same strategy didn't work for "MOM" and "DAD." Of course, in the grand scheme of the complex English language, it could be argued that "mom" and "dad" aren't necessarily antonyms of one another, but if the game considers "mama" and "papa" to be so, surely it should find the same for "mom" and "dad"?

While things could be better overall in the word department, it's clear Brainseed Factory has put a huge amount of effort into what couldn't have been an easy process. Along with multiple solutions for puzzles, they have also gone out of their way to make Easter eggs within the game. Spelling certain words, of which there are more than 150, will yield certain reactions from HERO, cause the background of the screen to change or alter the appearance of the main character. I won't spoil them all, but they are numerous. If you're really curious, all the words you're trying to solve in the Antonymizer mini game (more on this later) are from the Easter egg word bank.

You wouldn't think it, but this puzzle can be solved upwards of 15 waysYou wouldn't think it, but this puzzle can be solved upwards of 15 ways

The environments have also been lavished with love and the dark, gritty atmosphere is one that is both eye catching and a stark contrast to the pixelated style for which many developers opt nowadays. In that department, Typoman has received heavy comparisons to LIMBO, which is fair and not necessarily a bad thing, but make no mistake, these two games are clearly their own entities. There is also the matter of everything being composed of words, much of it cleverly implemented. Suddenly a "PART" will become a "TRAP," or "SPANS" suddenly "SNAPS." To match its visuals, the game performs well with only a small problem arising as you start to get faster at playing the game. If you're slowly progressing, loading is no issue, but once you start to go faster and fly through puzzles and platforming segments, there is slight hitching and hiccuping as the game struggles to load the next scene.

The art is striking, the platforming is wonderful and the word puzzles are impressive despite not being perfect, but while it far from ruins enjoyment of the rest of the game, the biggest gripe with Typoman is regarding the final boss fight. After playing through the entire story, where words are used in context so creatively, the final boss was a monotonous experience of learning when to jump, dodge, and do the exact thing I joked about earlier in the review — throw good words at a bad guy. It could have been something so unique but is instead a samey, 30-second romp of leaping and pirouetting. With that said, Typoman isn't about boss encounters or the denouement of the game. The journey is worth far more than what it all amounts to in the end.

It's unsafe to climb ladders without proper spottingIt's unsafe to climb ladders without proper spotting

If you're going to go for all 20 achievements in Typoman after reaching the ending, it isn't too difficult with a bit of practice. They abide by most of your typical achievement categories with some being story-based, collectibles, scenario-specific or playthrough-specific. Easily the most challenging achievement is the self-titled Typoman achievement for not dying more than five times in a single playthrough, perhaps also a nod to LIMBO's achievement of a similar nature. The Most Time Consuming Award goes to the Antonymizer achievement, earned for completing the Antonymizer mini game. In this, players must spell out the the 165 Easter egg words I mentioned earlier. However, you're not given the letters you need and must spell the words with clever antonym usage. While the mini game is interesting at first, progress is a crawl and takes upwards of five hours; meanwhile, a story playthrough of the game will run you under two.

Summary

In a sea of ID@Xbox games, Typoman: Revised stands on its own thanks to its solid gameplay and unique use of words and puzzles. The platforming simply feels good, and the usage of letters, words and antonyms add another layer to it. The beautiful, dark environments beg to be explored, and despite its playthrough-heavy completion requirements, the game is a joy to play through every time to obtain all of the gamerscore available. Although it was sometimes disappointing to think of a clever word or antonym only to have it not yield any reaction from the game's dictionary, there was occasional stuttering as the game loads the next sequence, and the final boss fight was lackluster at best, it's not enough to put a damper on all of the good things here.
4 / 5
Typoman: Revised
Positives
  • Smooth platforming
  • Beautiful and dark environments
  • Clever, unique use of words and wordplay, and impressive dictionary
  • Multiple ways to solve puzzles
  • More than 150 Easter egg words
Negatives
  • Disappointing final boss
  • Some noticeable absences for words that could solve puzzles or become antonyms
  • Occasional hiccuping as the game loads
Ethics
The reviewer spent about 20 hours indulged in Typoman: Revised's dark world, earning all 20 of the game's achievements along the way for the full 1,000 gamerscore. An Xbox One copy of the game was provided courtesy of the ID@Xbox team for the purpose of this review.
Kelly Packard
Written by Kelly Packard
In a few descriptors: college student, longtime gamer, writer and junk food enthusiast. I contribute to TrueAchievements as a news writer and reviewer. Usually, you can find me knee-deep in a multiplayer game while ignoring my growing backlog or on one forum or another discussing all things gaming.